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Playing senior footy 'the carrot' for AJ

Luke McManus  November 29, 2017 4:20 PM

Callum Mills, Alex Johnson and Isaac Heeney slug it out at pre-season training on Monday. (Photo: Herald Sun)

Callum Mills, Alex Johnson and Isaac Heeney slug it out at pre-season training on Monday. (Photo: Herald Sun)

It’s still the carrot dangling in front of me

Playing senior football again is “the carrot” dangling in front of Alex Johnson’s face ahead of his first pre-season for several years.

Back on the Sydney Swans’ list following Monday’s Rookie Draft, Johnson is approaching his eighth season of AFL football with renewed vigour and a make-or-break mentality.

The 25-year-old has been stuck on 45 games after five knee reconstructions and countless extra operations piled up after his initial anterior cruciate ligament injury back in the summer of 2013.

Running freely now and having ticked off every session in this campaign thus far, Johnson is confident of building a strong fitness base for when the competitive stuff comes around again.

“I sat down with the physios and medicos, and a big focus for me was to get away and have some time off so I spent five or six weeks doing nothing at all,” he said.

“It was a good break and allowed me to recuperate after what was a big year getting back to playing footy week in and week out for the last 10 weeks of the year.

“I feel like I’m in reasonably nick, but I can definitely improve over this pre-season and build my fitness and strength even more.

“For the first time I’m able to do full pre-season sessions in November which something I haven’t been able to do for a long time so that’ll give me a good base going into next year.”

And the sky’s the limit for the resilient defender who’s impressed the coaches and medical staff with his performances at training alongside his first-to-fourth year teammates.

While his focus is homed in on getting through this pre-season unscathed, Johnson feels his 46th game is close than ever.

“It’s still the carrot dangling in front of me,” he added.

“I’ve firmly got my sights set on pre-season and Round 1 next year, that’s my number one priority.”

Johnson joins teammates Toby Pink, Ben Ronke and Robie Fox plus new arrivals Angus Styles, Joel Armatey, Jake Brown and James Bell on the rookie list for season 2018.